Literary Fiction

Il tempo degli imprevisti

(The Time of Unforeseen Events)

Ugo Guanda Editore, April 2024, pp.304

Helena Janeczek, winner of the 2018 Strega Prize, revisits the 20th century from the beginning, reliving – from within every character – the yet unfinished past in an attempt to grasp their unresolved heritage.

A polyphonic tale of normal, yet extraordinary characters, of true, peripheral or semi-known stories that prove how the time of unforseen events is also a time of possibilities worth investigating

The Zanetta sisters arrive in a Milan buzzing with the 1906 world fair and subscribe to Socialist dreams, although the youngest is arrested for defeatism in the years immediately after Caporetto.
In 1920 Trentino-Alto Adige the air is good for those with health conditions and Doctor K. thinks he is at the heart of a spying intrigue arising from the correspondence with his translator Milena Jesenská.
In Venice, the daughter of the great American poet Ezra Pound wanders across the city unaware that she is being spied on by a boy with whom she shared her childhood.
Finally, the young Albert O. Hirschman joins his sister and brother-in-law in Trieste, a city fuelled by the hedonistic, commercial spirit of its proudly Italian middle classes, those same middle classes that will shortly see their world struck by racial laws, like the most unthinkable and dreadful of unforeseen events.

Ugo Guanda Editore, April 2024, pp.304

  • “It avoids the literary dictate of a novel (…) Modelled on W.G Sebald’s The Emigrants.”

    Il Venerdì, La Repubblica

  • “An elegant intersection between fable and news items.”


  • “Remarkable stories.”

    Il Riformista

  • “Janeczek’s writing is (…) increasingly evocative and persuasive, (…) a language capable of conveying history’s inconceivable drama through words.”

    Alessandro Zaccuri, Avvenire

  • “In a kind of tetralogy of stories punctuated by musical rhythm, Helena Janeczek remains faithful to the style and spirit of The Girl with the Leica: she sketches historical figures and real-life events, capturing personal turning points and silent, epoch-making changes.”

    Ermanno Paccagnini, La Lettura

  •  “Helena Janeczek writes with a stark voice in her gritty, precise Italian that can shock and murmur.”

    Erri De Luca

  • “A true writer, attentive to fiction but obsessed with historical reality.”


    Roberto Saviano

Rights Sold

Option publishers: Bulgaria: Paradox; Croatia: Ljevak; Denmark: Palomar; World English: Europa Editions; France: Actes Sud; Germany: Berlin Verlag; Iran: Aftabkaran (Persian); The Netherlands: De Bezige Bij; Romania: Art; Russia: Knizhniki; World Spanish: Castilian/Tusquets, Catalan/Grup 62.

Helena Janeczek

Helena Janeczek was born in Munich in 1964 to a Jewish-Polish family. In 1983 she came to Italy, where she still lives. She is the author of a collection of poems in German and the novels Lezioni di tenebra (Mondadori 1997 – Premio Bagutta Opera Prima) republished by Guanda in 2011, Cibo (Mondadori 2002, republished by Guanda in 2019), Le rondini di Montecassino (The Swallows of Montecassino, Guanda 2010), finalist for the Premio Comisso and winner of the Premio Napoli, the Premio Sandro Onofri and the Premio Pisa. Her La ragazza con la Leica (The Girl with the Leica, 2018, over 180,000 copies sold) won the 2018 Strega Prize, the Bagutta Prize and the Premio Selezione Campiello.

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